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Sunday, August 7, 2022

Academics & Research

University opens materials research library


The materials lab in the architecture building gives students hundreds of samples to study, o! ering insight and helping them compare building materials for various construction projects they need to work on. | Paul Crespo/The Daily Cougar

The materials lab in the architecture building gives students hundreds of samples to study, o! ering insight and helping them compare building materials for various construction projects they need to work on. | Paul Crespo/The Daily Cougar

This fall, the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture opened the doors of the Materials Research Collaborative, which is an outlet of Material Connexion, a database that has physical collection libraries in only eight other locations throughout the world.

The MRC was founded with educational value in mind, allowing free access to all University students. It provides a tangible, out-of-classroom experience for architecture students who are used to seeing just pictures of materials.

The library includes over 100 materials that allow students to find materials by visual preferences or by criteria. They are able to feel the texture and how light or how heavy an object is.

Materials are labeled in a way that makes it easy for them to find in the database, including even a QR code that you can scan with a specialized phone app.

Director and Associate Professor Donna Kacmar worked with the dean to bring the collection to the University.

Together, they worked out a collaboration with area professionals that includes Page Sotherland Page, Kendall/Heaton Associates, Gensler and Ziegler Cooper.

“They are helping support the education of students who will come to the workforce with more knowledge of materials than they would otherwise have,” Kacmar said.

“It’s a resource that increases the material literacy of our students.”

Having the collection library can bring a positive exposure to both University research and Houston professionals. It raises the possibility and challenge of how we can become the next material innovator.

“About ten years ago we thought of materials of how they look and what they cost; now with sustainability and environmental impact, people want to know more,” she said. “There is more responsibility.”

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